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Texas Constitutional Amendment Election May 12

May 3rd, 2007

Today I received an email from Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Texas, regarding a statewide election that will be held on May 12. I know that many of you will not be affected by this, but since I happen to be a Texas resident and know that I have a few readers who are also living in this state, I want to pass along the relevant information that I have discovered so that you will be able to cast an informed vote.

First of all, I might as well relay the contents of the email to you since it contains a link to the League of Women Voters site, which has a good summary of the proposed amendment with the pro and con arguments.

Friend of Liberty:

As you may know, there is a statewide election being held. Early voting started this past Monday. There is a state constitutional amendment on the ballot, and many local jurisdictions are holding joint elections as well.

Constitutional Amendment

The Libertarian Party of Texas has decided not to officially support or oppose this amendment. The State Executive Committee felt that, from a Libertarian point of view, there are good arguments on both sides of the issue. For a description of the amendment and sample arguments for and against, we suggest looking at this information from the League of Women Voters of Texas:
http://www.lwvtexas.org/AmendmentMay07.htm

Local Races

Several Libertarian Party members are running for local offices around Texas:

Joey Dauben - Waxahachie City Council, At-Large (Ellis County)
Pat Dixon - Lago Vista City Council, Place 1 (Travis County)
Michael Haven - Pine Island City Commissioner, Place 1 (Waller County)
Michael Idrogo - San Antonio Mayor (Bexar County)
Gary Johnson - Austin ISD Trustee, District 2 (Travis County)
Matthew Moseley - Richardson City Council, Place 6 (Dallas County)
Kevin Tunstall - Missouri City Council, District C (Fort Bend County)

You can find contact information and website links for these candidates at the LPT website LPTexas.org.

—-
Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian Party of Texas

P.S. If you don’t have one of our Texas Libertarian bumper stickers, you can order one for free from our campaign materials store.

Essentially, this amendment would reduce property taxes on homeowners who are age 65 or older and/or disabled. Under the current state law, people that fall into these categories have a ceiling on the amount of property taxes that they must pay, and that ceiling is based on the amount of taxes that they were required to pay during the year that they qualified for the ceiling.

This amendment has been proposed because the 2006 (79th) Texas legislature passed school property tax cuts during one of its sessions, but this did not include people who had qualified for the tax rate ceiling. Because of the way Texas law works, the only way that the 65+/disabled group can receive proportional reductions to their property tax rates is by amending the state constitution and making the complementary change in statutory law.

The amendment would only apply the reductions for the 2006 and 2007 tax years, as this provision expires on January 1, 2009. This means that any reductions for tax years after 2007 would require another constitutional amendment.

Interestingly, the Texas LP is abstaining from taking an official position on the proposal. At first, I was puzzled by this because it seems like we would support this amendment since it reduces taxes, albeit for only a predetermined group and for only two years. After all, for Libertarians any reduction in taxes is a good thing.

Then I considered the possibility that some LP members may be opposing this because of its discriminatory nature; it certainly does not seem fair to lower taxes only for some people but not for others. Also, there may be some concern about the possibility that if taxes are substantially reduced for the 65 and over group, then the state may try to “make up for it” by raising taxes on the rest of us.

Ultimately, I believe that we should still support the amendment. Although I would agree that the method is not exactly fair, less tax still means more freedom. In this particular case, it means that elderly people will get to keep more of their own money, which they can use to better enjoy their “golden years” and/or pass on to their successors.

For many of us, age 65 may seem like a long time to wait before we can enjoy some of the economic freedom that we should have had all along. But freedom gained late is still freedom gained. Freedom that is passed over for lack of immediate gain is still freedom lost. Let’s reclaim our freedom while we still have the chance.


Election Results Update: Constitutional Amendment: Prop 1- To provide school tax relief to elderly or disabled taxpayers (SJR 13)

In Favor……………………….. 87.70%

Against…………………………..12.30%

For information on the next Constitutional Amendment elections for Texas, which are currently scheduled for November 6, 2007, you can go to the site for the Texas Secretary of State and view the specific ballot language for the amendments.


UPDATE 10/21/07: The Libertarian Party of Texas has released its positions on the 16 proposed Texas Constitutional amendments which are coming up for a statewide vote on election day November 6. I have posted the details of the Libertarian press release along with my own impressions of the proposals here.


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